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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

WILLIAM  TON  BUMBOLBT.                   427
when they impart their great thoughts to each other
until their hour of death. Goethe's last letter to
Huinboldt was written on the morning of the day on
which his fatal illness commenced, and Humbcldtys
reply arrived on the day of Goethe^s funeral.
After his death, Humboldt seized the first oppor-
tunity of publicly expressing his views of him, and de-
livered a fiineral oration on his memory to the Academy
of Arts in Berlin. It was also the last time that
Humboldt came prominently forward in public. He
did indeed come to the town now and then tiE shortly
before his death, but except for these occasional visits,
principally made to the Society of Arts., he spent the
whole of 1834 in Tegel, bent on the completion of his
great philological work.
"Whoever visited Him in his solitude found him
always more kind and resigned. We know indeed
that his sentimental feature had never left him? but
he could always restrain it by his reason and his prac-
tical mind. He had never been "wanting in deep and
tender feeling, but in the course of his public life he
concealed his warmth of heart, and those only whom
he loved and who were his equals in their tendencies
found him always affectionate ; to others, though long
acquaintances, he seemed cold and indifferent. He
purposely concealed his feelings, and with conscious
superiority treated even men who merited more, as
subjects for his entertainment, so that many of his
contemporaries saw nothing in him except a gigantic
knowledge, a most penetrating insight., and great
reason. "But he was different after his retirement
from public aflkirsj and especially during the last
years of Ms life* Then he showed himself freely and
without reserve; even the sentimentality which had
been peculiar to his youth returned. What he could
confide to no one he expressed in the eloquent verses
he left behind^ but even in social intercourse his
tender feelings revealed themselves plainly by gentle-
ness and affection. Thus he lived until, in the
third decade of this century, Germany lost, one after